I’m going to start today’s comments with a heartfelt birthday greeting for my all-time baseball hero and hero in general, Harmon Clayton Killebrew. Happy 74th, Killer! Harmon is the guiding light for all players in the Minnesota Twins organization going back to the early 1960’s. Harmon is a gentleman always, and he imparts that on all the Twins in the organization. The Twins have a rich history of quality people, not just ball players. They’ve had characters, no doubt, but never self-serving thugs. The Twins ball players have always been involved in community betterment programs in and around the Twin Cities and in their own hometowns. Management in the Twins organization has always placed a premium on good work habits, team effort, and being great citizens. A little thing that exemplifies the Twins is their long history of being fundamentally sound. Always a leader in fielding, bunting, hitting the cut-off man, etc. These are aspects of the game that contribute to the TEAM results, not individual stats.
If one were to take a careful examination of the professional sports teams in America, it is baseball that best represents what’s great about America. Play team ball, work hard toward team results, be good citizens in the community, and represent the sport with reverence, dignity, and respect. In my opinion, no other sport can make such a claim or even come close to being a positive role model for the youth of the country. These guys, for the most part, are great guys dedicated to the sport and willing to make the sacrifices for the betterment of the sport and not individual stats. Tell me another sport that can make such a claim. You can’t!
The incidences of criminal activity are virtually non-existent with baseball players while the newspapers are filled with stories daily about the thug drug, guns, and other crimes, assault etc., committed by NFL and NBA players. It’s all about the focus of the sport. Obviously baseball in America has chosen to be positive role model for kids and good citizens in their particular communities and football and basketball have not!
Baseball is a game that forces the players to think about game situations, it’s a very cerebral game that requires attention to detail, focus, and practice. It’s includes the most difficult single athletic activity in sports, successfully hitting a pitched baseball! Baseball requires difficult to master skills, hand-eye coordination, strategy, and thinking. Because it is a difficult sport to master, and does require long hard hours of practice, unfortunately baseball in America for the youngsters is losing popularity. This is too bad, because it is such a great athletic activity that calls for such great skills and thought processes. Baseball stirs a passionate fire inside of me like no other sport, especially when talking about the Minnesota Twins, the South Carolina Gamecocks, and the Minnesota Gophers.
A great baseball night yesterday. First, the Twins crushed the Tigers to move back into first place in the division, and then a dream of mine since 1973, the University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks won the College World Series and are now the 2010 NCAA Champions! My heart was crushed twice in my years at Carolina, in 1975 and in 1977. We went to the championship game and loss both times! Amateur baseball, especially college ball, is such a pure form of the sport at high level of quality. While at Carolina, we had very competitive football teams, we had a basketball team that was a national power under coach Frank McGuire, but I waited for January and the start of baseball season every year. Our baseball stadium, Sarge Frye Field was a pure baseball treasure. Bleachers surrounded the infield and extended down the left field foul line, the right field area was taken up by outdoor racquetball courts. The background behind the bleachers was the home of the “Roost”, the scholarship athletes dorms. The field itself was considered one of the premier fields in the country, the best under the majors. Palm trees lined the outfield fences and swayed in the hot breezes of those sunny South Carolina afternoons. I looked forward to many days a week, walking from my dorm to the Roost to catch some rays and the ‘Cocks on the field. We great attendance at all of our games as the “townies” also came in droves to watch and appreciate a great game.
Bobby Richardson was the coach for the ‘Cocks team when I was there. Present day coach, Ray Tanner was one of Bobby’s assistant coaches. Carolina had some awesome and All-American players while I was there. Hank Small, Gary Hancock, Ed Lynch, Mookie Wilson, Eddie Ford and many more. A lot of these guys made it to the majors! These kids play college ball for the sheer love of the game, and it shows on the field. Oh, they also get there educations paid for! What’s interesting is most NCAA D-1 baseball teams sport the highest GPA and grad rates of any of the scholarship sports at their particular school!
Yes, baseball is the “pastime of America”. The Minnesota Twins are enjoying their first year in the beautiful new Target Field. What a grand gesture the Twins made to amateur baseball in Minnesota by inviting the University of Minnesota Gophers baseball team to inaugurate the new stadium with a game. Unfortunately, the Gophers lost! Then the Twins invited the Minnesota State High School League to play the championship games of all three levels at Target Field! Baseball really is the face of what’s great in America. It is the picture of decency in sport possibly only rivaled by golf.
The Twins have been in a rut of late. The pitching stinks, other than Pavano, and they haven’t been worth a crap all season in situational hitting. The injuries have been killing them. Many games they are starting two and three minor leaguers to fill the holes left by the injured players. Credit Manager Ron Gardenhire for keeping them competitive during this stretch. I believe that once we get the starters back and the pitchers rediscover their grooves, the Twins will prove to be the best team in the division again.I love them and I hate them, in situations, but that’s the life of a dyed in the wool fan of the greatest sport there is, baseball! Thanks for today’s read.